Sex for a stuffy nose
At the height of cold season, it seems worth mentioning a recent article in one of my favorite journals, Medical Hypotheses, that claims that sex alleviates cold symptoms.
The logic is as follows: a cold results in congestion and inability to breathe through the nose. Decongestants can solve the problem, but they’re addictive, ultimately ineffective — worse yet — they may blunt the taste buds. Of course, blowing the nose clears the nasal passages, but a recent Times article reported that nose blowing is actually bad because it reverses the flow of mucus into the sinuses, building up pressure and slowing down drainage.
The safer, more natural way to alleviate sinus pressure, according to the Medical Hypotheses authors, is to have sex — and to adhere to “proper scheduling….[to keep] the nose clear for the rest of [one’s] life.” Arousal stimulates adrenergic receptors, which are under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. The receptors in turn trigger vasoconstriction of blood vessels, which in turn help unstuff the stuffy nose. (According to a similar theory, sex may also cure a headache.) Focusing on men, the authors note that relief should immediately follow orgasm. In short, the nose shouldn’t be blown — rechannel your blowing efforts below the belt.
But does it really help? In theory, frequent sex (or masturbation) should keep the blood vessels constricted and the nose clear. Anecdotal reports say yes, sex clears the nose (and even the mind), but no serious study has been done to prove it really works.
My guess? I suspect that it’s true, sex really does clears nasal passages, but relief probably doesn’t not last long before you need to do it again — in which case, Sudafed must be replaced by Viagra.